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Richard Dawkins: Trying to Use Muslim Women as Foot Soldiers in his Crusade against Religion

Richard Dawkins has been an “asshat” for quite a while now. His anti-Muslim, sexist, xenophobic statements have been exposed on our site before.

Below, Fatemeh Fakhraie dissects his most recent inane and despicable comments.

Obligatory Richard Dawkins Post

by Fatemeh Fakhraie (Muslimah Media Watch)

So Richard Dawkins is an asshat. Anyone surprised?

Here’s the comment he left on a thread that discussed sexism:

Dear Muslima

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .

And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.


And here’s a brief roundup of what people are saying about it.

The Atlantic Wire:

Several comments, including Watson’s own, hit on exactly what the fight’s about. Dawkins has every right to dismiss Watson’s story and to argue that she was not in a high risk situation. But his attempt to prove how insignificant Watson’s story was by comparing it with the much worse scenario of a Muslim woman’s daily life hurts his argument. The fact that something worse is going on somewhere else does not diminish whatever may be happening here. Also, as Watson points out, Dawkins is admired widely for work criticizing creationism and denouncing the use of religion as an excuse for repressing women in particular. To defend only some women from misogyny and not all, she and others argue, is hypocrtical. (sic)


Again, he implies that “Muslim women” and “American women” are mutually exclusive groups; again, he implies that American women do not “suffer physically from misogyny,” nor are their lives “substantially damaged by religiously inspired misogyny.”

What Tami Said:

High-profile and influential men, like Dawkins, who use their status to minimize sexism in the West, deny the lived experiences of women, and advance the stupid thinking that all Western women are both white and privileged, poison a well already rank with gender bias. Men like Dawkins who sneer at Western misogyny make Western women’s lives more difficult, including women like Watson who are atheists. So, why should Watson and other women continue to hand Dawkins their money and support, and prop up his influence, when he thinks they’re all a bunch of whiny bitches who should be satisfied getting sexually harassed because somewhere (in those bad, brown, Muslim countries) a woman has it worse?

Lots of people have said lots of things about this, rightfully calling out Dawkins’ male privilege and pointing out that the “there are bigger problems” argument is derailing and silencing.

But very few of these posts have touched on Dawkins’ use of Muslim women specifically. And that’s where we come in.

Richard Dawkins is an atheist, and as an atheist, he believes that organized religion is harmful for women. There are plenty of religious and non-religious thinkers who can level-headedly make the case that organized religions use rooted patriarchal norms to oppress women and often works against their own ideals, but Dawkins is not one of those people. Dawkins uses the stereotype of the oppressed Muslim woman and gives little regard to how his politicized views are received by Muslim women.

So no one should be surprised at his comment above.

But that’s doesn’t make it okay. Dawkins’ comment trades in stereotypes about Muslim women “over there.” Does female genital mutilation happen? Yes. Are women not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia? Yes. Is stoning a thing? Yes. But is Dawkins’ use of these acceptable? No.

It’s unacceptable for Dawkins to make sweeping statements like this because he attaches loaded terms like “female genital mutilation” and “stoning” to a huge, worldwide term like “Muslim women,” and attaches these things to Islam itself, ignoring outside cultural, economic, and social influences. Making blanket statements about FGM and stoning and driving attaches these to all of us, and contributes to the Oppressed Muslim Women stereotype. And you know what that stereotype has done to help us? Nothing.

It’s also just as silencing to female Muslim activists “over there” who are dealing with these issues, and other important ones, such as campaigning for the right to vote, pass their citizenship to their children, or keep custody of their children after divorce. Dawkins is injecting Muslim women “over there” into an issue that concerns us as well (sexual harassment and sexism in belief systems), but uses us to derail this issue.

And what is Dawkins doing to actually help the Muslim women he claims are “mutilated with a razor blade[s],” and “not allowed to drive a car,” and “stoned to death”?


So kindly shut the f**k up, Richard Dawkins, and stop using us as foot soldiers in your crusade against organized religion. We’ll be fine without you.

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  • iangould

    “Again, he implies that “Muslim women” and “American women” are mutually exclusive groups; again, he implies that American women do not “suffer physically from misogyny,” nor are their lives “substantially damaged by religiously inspired misogyny.””

    Statistically, an American woman is more likely than a woman in Saudi Arabia to be murdered by her spouse.

    But apparently that doesn’t matter because the American murder victims can’t be used to attack a particular religion.

  • Adam

    Ah as someone of pakistani culture, i must say that rape is not socially acceptable or looked upon lightly as acceptable in pakistan i soceity. Neither is domestic abuse. Your argueing in the form of caricatures in this thread, rather than fact. Woman in poor countries are treated like shit everywhere. South america, mexico, abuse and rape of woman is just as rampant. Yet we only focus on the middl east, atleast in this post 9/11 world. Why are we letting political convenience force which parts of teh world we talk about being socially backwards?

  • Traci

    “Three in four women (76%) who reported they had been raped and/or physically assaulted since age 18 said that an intimate partner (current or former husband, cohabiting partner, or date) committed the assault.”

    There is a statistic from as far back as the 70s (?) that 1 in 4 US females report having been sexually assaulted/raped during their lifetime (so this also includes incidents from childhood and puberty). I don’t recall offhand if that was based on reported crimes or a questionnaire or an estimate based on what is reported of what is likely unreported. Myself and almost every other woman I know (well enough to have had it shared) is part of that statistic (some, like myself, more than once). Dawkins appears to be taking part in the du jour “meme” of minimizing rape and the fear of being raped (being annoyed by someone chewing gum is equivalent to the anxiety one feels as a woman alone with a strange man who is propositioning you, in a hotel elevator, at 4am).

    Just because one lives in a sexually permissive culture doesn’t make inappropriate behavior (propositioning a woman you don’t know from Adam in a hotel elevator at 4am) acceptable. Horny?? Alone in town? Go online to one of the thousand websites and chat rooms that will take care of you. Don’t assume any unaccompanied female is fair game or wants to be treated like it.

  • Traci

    wow. I have now read too much of this–both background and comments. my femme-rage is boiling.

    Dawkins, you decry misogyny with one side of your intellectual mouth while it foams from out the other. Granted, I am an artsy, craftsy type of person who only knows the greatness of science secondhand (via a degreed spouse, atheist and scientific geeky friends, the occasional article or NOVA episide); but I thought you were higher up the evolutionary food chain.

    There was an Elayne Boosler joke I tried to google which seems apt for Dawkins’ ineptness at getting what the entire issue was. It went something like “my boyfriend asked me to walk along the (NYC) waterfront (at night). I told him no, I have a purse, a credit card…A VAGINA with me.”

  • Anticipated Serendipity

    Abuse against women exists everywhere but to varying degrees; a slap on the wrist doesn’t hurt the way someone throwing a brick on your head does but they are both forms of violence. There are laws in place to protect women in Western societies, in the MidEast domestic violence is considered a private matter and it is unlawful to come between a man and his property… I mean wife. Now with the OWW (Opressed Western Woman), your average prostitute is either a drug addict, a victim of child abuse, homeless, a sex slave or one, more or all of those things combined, it is exploitation and it is ILLEGAL in many Western countries (mine included). Prostitution is considered a legitimate government-taxed career in the Netherlands and for *some* women it is a choice, albeit an immoral one. Strippers, porn stars, etc are paid for their work and do what they do free of coercion. A woman can choose to a stripper but I don’t think any woman would/could choose to be raped, abused by male family members or married against her will. You are comparing apples and oranges. Calling Dawkins sexist while being an apologist for Pakistan’s abuse of women makes it pretty clear you’re a faux feminist; rap music promotes violence against women and global feminism should exhaust all it’s effort in having it banne too, right? And men who propostion women in elevators need to be castrated but Pakistan is another culture so we must be all nice and tolerant lest we offend them which menas ignoring REAL misogyny in favour of cultural relativism and tolerance.

  • sahra

    @Anticipated…You’re missing the point of my comments,perhaps you missed the title of the article, what i was trying to say was that the problems facing womans today like(domestic abuse,rape,sexual harassment ect..) are global and not only specific to one place or one religious group, and therefore this hatefull,sexist man(Dawking)can not use them for his hatefull propoganda and crusade against Islam.
    PS.. and yes(pornography,striping..ect)are exploitations of the woman’s body and therefore degrading to all woman and not just the ones doing it.

  • Anticipated Serendipity

    ^I’m positively sure I’m not Kal. I cited a news article in response to JN’s news articles. I’m sure you can find out more about Pakistan’s treatment of women if you just did a quick Google search. Many countries are Third World, and a few Third World nations ranked higher than the US when it came to gender equality, however Pakistan is the third most dangerous country in the world to be a woman. Congo was the second most dangerous country to be a woman and it is the “Democratic Republic of Congo” not the “Christian Republic of Congo” unlike the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. Rape is not treated like the appalling crime that it is in Pakistan thanks to the hudood ordinance which has everything to do with General Zia’s interpretation of Islamic law. There is no way the situation in the Congo can be tied to religion. If Musharraf believes getting raped will help you acquire fame and wealth then it is hardly “only in the villages”. 
    I’m not Indian or Pakistani (I’m assuming you’re Pakistani) so quoting news that paints India in a nasty light does nothing for me and I believe the culture in that part of the world is primitive to begin with; women are better off in India but only slightly as India was the fourth dangerous for women, however misogynistic South Asian culture coupled with misogynistic interpretations of religion is what Pakistan has.

  • JD

    That was my point domestic abuse, child abuse , murder , killings is not just muslim thing or a African thing or a pakistan thing it happens all over the world and idiots like you and dawkins act like it never happpends anyplace else and it must be all islam/religion fault or they must be following islam/____________ religion .

    2. please show me that report on “Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Report, 3,000 women were raped ”

    3. That is life in some parts of the 3rd world with different rules laws customs you cant chalk all that to religion what is going in some village does not defy Pakistan or Pakistani People .

    maybe you should flip thru Jung News

    look at ad link what the girls have on or watch Paki channels on Tv

    Just as
    From an Indian News Paper(Pakistan neighbor) just today…..

    Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh: Three persons, including two government employees, allegedly gangraped a 30-year-old woman in the district, police said on Saturday.

    An FIR was lodged yesterday against collectorate employee Ram Sagar, clerk Ramesh Pande and another person Haseen on the basis of an inquiry into the allegations levelled against the accused in a complaint by the victim on July 14, they said.

    Christianity is the majority religion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, followed by about 96% of the population
    In eastern Congo, the prevalence and intensity of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world. A 2006 report by the African Association for the Defence of Human Rights prepared for that committee provides a broad overview of issues confronting women in the DRC in law and in daily life According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence, Yakin Ertürk, who toured eastern Congo in July 2007, violence against women in North and South Kivu included ‘unimaginable brutality’. ‘Armed groups attack local communities, loot, rape, kidnap women and children, and make them work as sexual slaves,’

    Are you sure you’re not Kal you sound like him?

  • Another one

    Oops. I just realised that there’s another poster here using the name Al. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for kind words. -The latter Al

  • mindy1

    @Al, those guys were just being asses >:(

  • Abdullah

    Dear Al
    I’m sincerely saddened when I hear my sisters being harassed like this. Just remember, God is with the patient.


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